Hiroshi Yamauchi, the nominal owner of the Seattle Mariners since 1992 and, a tad more significantly, the chairman and largest shareholder of Nintendo, has died at the age of 85.
As far as actual team and game impact, Yamauchi may be the least notable Major League Baseball owner of all time. During the more than two decades Nintendo has owned the Seattle Mariners, he never even attended a ballgame, even when the Mariners played in Japan a couple of years ago. He gave new definition to the term “hands-off,” designating various executives as the team’s control person and, in all likelihood, not knowing the name of any Mariners players apart from Ichiro. Which, to be fair, could also be said of a great number of American baseball fans since, oh, 2002 or so.
Obviously Yamauchi’s main job made him a tad more notable. He led Nintendo from 1949 until his retirement a couple of years ago and in that time he transformed it from a struggling toy and playing card company into a video game powerhouse, overseeing the creation of the various iterations of the Nintendo gaming systems and its signature characters like Mario and Donkey Kong.
That he never fired the guy who designed Mario Kart in such a way that you were hit by that friggin’ lighting bolt thing every time you were about to win a race against your kids is one thing I will never forgive him for, in life or in death, but I’m sure he meant well.
Given his retirement this will obviously have little or no impact on the Mariners, but it will be interesting to see if they make public note of it at the next home game.